The curtain goes up on a new Highland Park football season one week from today. So consider tonight’s scrimmage as the dress rehearsal.
When the Scots face Plano East at 7:30 p.m. at Kimbrough Stadium, it will be an opportunity for players, coaches, and onlookers to gauge the progress of the team after two weeks of fall practice.
There are the usual refining of schemes and battles for starting positions — none more significant than at quarterback, where head coach Randy Allen hasn’t named a starter yet. He’s been watching seniors Michael Clarke and Jack Fain compete with junior John Stephen Jones for the spot.
The scrimmage also will provide a look at the experienced HP defense. Although the Scots are young in the secondary, the quartet of starting linebackers — including John House, Matt Gahm, Bennett Brock, and Marshall Ballard — likely is among the best units in the Dallas area.
HP, of course, will drop down to Class 5A this season after spending the past two seasons at the 6A level, compiling a 20-4 record in the process. The Scots won’t start District 15-5A play until Sept. 16, but the season opener against powerhouse Rockwall on Aug. 26 (the only 6A team on this year’s schedule) will be quite a test.
Plano East, meanwhile, surged to a 7-4 record in a tough district last season and made its first playoff appearance since 2011, when current HP athletic director Johnny Ringo was the head coach.
The Panthers have one of the top linebackers in the country in Anthony Hines as well as defensive lineman Deiontae Watts, another blue-chip recruit. The offense is led by dual-threat quarterback Miklo Smalls, who accounted for 34 touchdowns last season.